Arriving in Kluane was not quite like I imagined.
I have never before been somewhere so mountainous and rural. It shocked me to hear that the UK has half of the land area, but over two thousand times the population of the Yukon Territory! Driving to Kluane Lake from Whitehorse (the capital) you can definitely tell: there are few towns on the way, the road simply stretching out into the mountains ahead.
Once I arrived, I was shown my cabin, the “Moose Cabin”. The scenic view of the snowy mountains was enough for me to fall in love with this place.
The first few days I adjusted to my new lifestyle and my new tasks. I’ve been sent ahead by the rest of Team Kluane to manage the ‘common garden’, our headline experiment at the Kluane site. We are looking at whether genetic differences between shrub populations could slow their response to climate change – so the garden is full of rows of willow stems from across the Yukon, trying desperately to push out their vibrant green leaves under a foreign sky. Despite seeing pictures of the common garden before, I was happily surprised to see how close it was to the lake; what a good view to be working with!
One of my first tasks was to fertilize the garden, and since we haven’t had the chance to set up our pump yet this year I had to retrieve water from the lake. The path from the garden to the lake has a bit of dense vegetation around it so I practiced my new bear safety skills (“HEY BEAR!”) as I walked back and forth. Despite the stress a city kid gets from a potential bear encounter, each stop at the lake was truly mesmerizing — I still think someone is going to pull the green screen down! I couldn’t help but take countless pictures.